One of the hardest things about planning a wedding is trying to achieve the wedding of your dreams on a budget. At Delicious Cake Design, we are very mindful of this and aim to provide couples with a wedding cake that meets their budget as well as their design requirements. There are several things we can do to help this process, such as opting for flowers that are simpler to make, providing extra undecorated cutting cakes, or simplifying designs so they are still stunning but less time consuming to create.
But what if you have a budget that won’t buy even a basic wedding cake from a professional cake maker? Some brides (and grooms!) in this situation make their own wedding cake to save money. This can be a good idea, but there are many things to take into consideration before coming to a decision.
Firstly, do you have the time? Bear in mind that you will most likely still be putting finishing touches on the cake during the week leading up to the big day, and if you are not making a fruit cake and are opting instead for sponge or chocolate, the cake (or cakes) will all have to be baked no earlier than 3 days before the wedding. This gives you only 2 days to decorate the cake. With all the other things you will have to do that close to the wedding, will you have time to spend a whole day baking cakes, and up to a whole day (or more!) decorating? Not forgetting as well you will have to put time aside to go and buy all the ingredients and source all the decorative elements, which is not an easy task.
And more importantly, do you want to put up with the stress of making and decorating a cake when you’re trying to fit in dress rehearsals, manicures, last minute dress alterations, guests arriving from afar, and all the other bits and pieces that tend to pile up in the week before a wedding?
Do you have the necessary skills to make a wedding cake? At the very least you should have some competency in baking. An eye for detail and design plus a steady hand would be advantageous as well. If you are the kind of person that considers cooking to be making toast, which you somehow always seems to burn, perhaps it is not a good idea to take the risk!
If you do decide to take the plunge and make your own wedding cake, preparation is the key. I would recommend doing some research as far in advance as you can. There are many good books out there that give clear, step by step instructions on covering and decorating cakes. If possible, make at least one practice cake that you have baked yourself and covered and decorated. The last thing you want is to try it for the first time the day before your wedding and find yourself with a lopsided cake that has pleats and folds in the icing when it’s too late to do anything about it!
Although mass produced rolled fondant (also known as sugarpaste or regal ice) doesn’t taste anywhere near as good as the homemade kind, rolled fondant can be very tricky to make especially for first timers. It might be best to stick to the store bought variety in this instance. Avoid the kind you get in supermarkets if possible as they are very difficult to work with and taste awful. Specialty cake decorating shops sell much better brands which taste better and are less finicky to use.
Covering a cake with rolled fondant can be very difficult for beginners, especially achieving a smooth, perfect finish. One of the most common questions I get asked is “How do I get the pleats/folds out of the icing when I cover the cake?”. This takes quite a lot of practice! So in the months leading up to the wedding, practice covering the back of cake tins until you get it right, then try it out on a real cake. Covering a real cake is a very different experience to covering a tin as you will have crumbs and imperfect surfaces to deal with.
Be mindful of food safety and hygiene in the kitchen. You don’t want to end up giving your guests food poisoning, or end up with grains of last night’s supper in the cake.
If you know someone who would be willing to take on the task of making your wedding cake (mothers are often a good source for this!), and who you trust to produce a result that you will be happy with, then an alternative is to ask this person to make the cake. You can even suggest they make the cake as a wedding gift. Be understanding if they say no, as making a wedding cake is a huge responsibility which they may be reluctant to take on.
And of course, don’t be afraid to get a quote from a professional source, such as Delicious Cake Design. I aim to be as accommodating as possible in trying to fit your budget and you may be surprised at what you can get for your money!
Good luck, and happy baking!